By: E&P Staff
Newspapers are filled today with articles commemorating the Fall of Baghdad four years ago. Certainly one of the most unusual appeared in The Washington Post: A profile of an Iraqi man immortalized in photos at that time hammering the famously toppled statue of Saddam Hussein.
His name is Khadim al-Jubouri and apparently he feels things have gone from bad to worse since then.
The end of Saddam “achieved nothing,” he said. “We got rid of a tyrant and tyranny. But we were surprised that after one thief had left, another 40 replaced him,” said Jubouri, who is a Shiite Muslim. “Now, we regret that Saddam Hussein is gone, no matter how much we hated him.”
More from the article, available in full at www.washingtonpost.com.
His faith in the United States has also vanished, he said. But he still has a passion for one thing uniquely American: the Harley-Davidson. On the wall of his cluttered office, next to medals he won as a champion weightlifter, hangs a tapestry emblazoned with an American flag, a bald eagle, a Harley and the words: “Born in the USA.”
On most days, however, he cannot afford to buy gas for his own Harley, a 1982 Fat Boy.
His country today is politically fractured and struggling to find direction. He has seen four Iraqi governments since the fall of Hussein. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died. At least 3,260 U.S. soldiers have been killed.
But the numbers that most directly affect Jubouri are these: Seven of his relatives and friends have been killed, kidnapped or driven from their homes. He gets four hours of electricity a day, if he’s lucky. The cost of cooking gas and fuel have soared, but his income is a quarter of what he used to earn.
“It’s gotten worse,” said Jubouri, 50, a barrel-chested man with a thick neck and an oval, cleanshaven face. “We can hardly make both ends meet.”
When he passes Firdaus Square these days, he says, he feels a mix of happiness and sorrow. He has no plans to celebrate on Monday.
“It is an ordinary day,” he said….
On April 9, 2003, when it was clear that American forces had taken control of the capital and Hussein had fled, he took a sledgehammer from his garage and made his way to the square.
“As I hit the statue, I was out of my mind. I was full of hatred,” Jubouri recalled. “When it fell, I was so happy. I thought things were going to improve.”